ITN chief executive John Hardie has said he will “not receive a penny” in bonus pay unless he hits new targets on “strict” gender and diversity objectives alongside existing financial ones.
Hardie said that not meeting these new targets means he would not be paid a bonus, regardless of ITN’s overall financial performance. The targets are due to be ratified at the next board meeting.
In an email to staff, seen by Press Gazette, Hardie called this his “public promise” to them and said he hoped it “demonstrates my personal commitment to tackling these issues”.
It comes after ITN was revealed to have the highest bonus pay gap between men and women of any UK news media organisation, with a mean gap of 77.2 per cent and a median gap of 50 per cent.
ITN’s mean hourly gender pay gap is 19.6 per cent (median 18.2 per cent).
The pay discrepancy prompted journalists to express their disappointment, with Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman saying on Twitter that it was “staggering”.
Buzzfeed has reported that in the wake of the figures a group of 120 women journalists at ITN have formed a collective, called the ITN Women, following in the footsteps of the BBC Women group.
Hardie’s message to staff today was billed as an update on “how things are progressing as we implement our action plan to tackle the [pay] gap”.
He said the company’s official Gender Pay working group, made up of representatives from each department, had met for the first time in a “frank and honest” discussion, which he described as a “very positive first step”, and that he had been talking with departments on gender pay.
“From these many conversations, a major theme to emerge is that we need more accountability and transparency around pay and particularly bonuses,” he said, and, revealing plans for his new gender and diversity bonus targets, added: “That begins with me.”
All senior management bonuses will also include “exacting” gender and diversity targets, he said, “to help get us to where we need to be”.
When Press Gazette spoke with a woman working at ITN following publication of its pay gap data last month, one of the issues she raised was the lack of salary banding.
She said: “Part of the problem is that there has been no transparency around pay up to this point. You would never know whether people who were doing the same job as you were paid more than you, in part because we don’t have salary bands.”
Hardie’s email today reveals that work has begun on implementing banding for all roles across ITN.
He said: “This is a major piece of work and will take longer to put in place than some of our other initiatives. The process has begun though, and we are talking to two specialist companies to discuss the scope and potential timings for pay banding.”
He said staff would be updated on this “once we are a bit further along” in the process.
Amid concerns around equal pay, Hardie said ITN would be introducing a “salary check procedure” that could see staff call on an impartial third party to review their pay confidentially if still unhappy after an internal review with management.
The Gender Pay working group would have “full input” on the decision to choose whom the third party should be, Hardie said.
He added the company is reviewing part-time working “to make sure our approach is fair and works for everybody” amid concerns raised by staff.
He also listed initiatives already being carried out at ITN to help tackle the pay gap, including a flexible working review, a maternity pay review and an offer for staff to apply to take the whole of August off as summer leave, on top of existing holiday entitlement.
This month, he said, a reverse mentoring scheme would be introduced with staff from a diverse range of backgrounds partnered with senior leaders “to share what working at ITN is like for them”, which he hoped would lead to “a greater appreciation of diversity and inclusion from the senior team”.
Training in unconscious bias is planned for new managers next month alongside a scheme to create “maternity sponsors”, who will keep in touch with staff on maternity leave regarding potential future working plans and to offer general help and advice.
Said Hardie: “The gender pay gap cannot be fixed overnight, but that will not hold us back from making significant short-term progress. There is a lot happening right away as we look to close ITN’s gender pay gap.
“There is still much to be done but these are positive first steps as we work together to create a better ITN for everyone.”
Hardie joined ITN in 2009 from Disney. He was paid a salary of more than £700,000 in 2016 (including pension contributions). The same year, ITN reported revenue up 8 per cent to £130m and a pre-tax profit of £2.8m.